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copyright-How can I find if a song is protected?

Moos 15 Dec 13 - 07:02 AM
Richard Bridge 15 Dec 13 - 11:13 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 15 Dec 13 - 09:48 PM
GUEST,leeneia 16 Dec 13 - 12:04 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Dec 13 - 12:40 PM
PHJim 16 Dec 13 - 07:00 PM
PHJim 16 Dec 13 - 07:02 PM
Richard Bridge 16 Dec 13 - 07:06 PM
GUEST 16 Dec 13 - 07:56 PM
ollaimh 16 Dec 13 - 09:54 PM
Richard Bridge 17 Dec 13 - 02:51 AM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Dec 13 - 12:01 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Dec 13 - 06:29 PM
GUEST 17 Dec 13 - 08:18 PM
wysiwyg 18 Dec 13 - 09:20 AM
GUEST,leeneia 18 Dec 13 - 11:06 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 18 Dec 13 - 01:20 PM
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Subject: copyright
From: Moos
Date: 15 Dec 13 - 07:02 AM

Hello,
How can I find out if a song is still protected by copyright ?

I DONT want to start a discussion on the pro's and con's of copyright, that's a whole different subject.

I always thought if the writer of the song is at least 70 years dead, the songs are free to use but f.i. Robert Johnson songs are still protected despite the fact that he is dead since 1938.

So is there a website where you can check if there is still (international ?) copyright on a song ?

thanks

Moos


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Dec 13 - 11:13 AM

There is no such thing as "international copyright". Copyright subsists only under the laws of each jurisdiction. There are international treaties pursuant to which each country agrees to make its laws conform to certain standards - but the US blithely signed up to the Berne Convention and to a considerable extent went its own way nonetheless.

The US has a weird and wonderful hybrid system involving registration of copyright. You can find out more at the Library of Congress website. In general under the Berne Convention the duration of copyright must be life (of the author, not the performer) plus 50 years (and usually to the 31st December). The EU made that life plus 70. The US has pfaffed around, going from two 28 year terms requiring renewal to longer terms. The current US position is: -

"As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors. To determine the length of copyright protection for a particular work, consult chapter 3 of the Copyright Act (title 17 of the United States Code)."

The usual scam is for an entrepreneur to re-register a slightly altered version of a work and then claim that that starts a fresh copyright term running. Other scams involve asserting that someone younger and longer-lived was a co-author so that his later death is the date on which the 70 years start running.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 15 Dec 13 - 09:48 PM

Mr. Bridge,

Your best, ever, explanation upon the subject.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

As noted, the USA has a wonderful freedom of discussion that allows Mudcat to function.....FAIR USE....whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational.


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Subject: RE: copyright-How can I find if a song is protected?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 16 Dec 13 - 12:04 PM

I'd like to know too, so (since I am American) I slogged through a few sites, including copyright.gov

Then I did what we all do, turned to wikipedia for something a person can understand. Since this is a traditional music site, I found the following to be helpful. Since I already some stuff about copyright, I think it is accurate.

"All copyrightable works published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain;[40] works created before 1978 but not published until recently may be protected until 2047.[41] For works that received their copyright before 1978, a renewal had to be filed in the work's 28th year with the Library of Congress Copyright Office for its term of protection to be extended. The need for renewal was eliminated by the Copyright Renewal Act of 1992, but works that had already entered the public domain by non-renewal did not regain copyright protection. Therefore, works published before 1964 that were not renewed are in the public domain. With rare exception (such as very old works first published after 2002), no additional copyrights will expire (thus entering the public domain) until at least 2019 due to changes in the applicable laws."

Now out of all that the most helpful part is probably the first sentence. And perhaps this one: "Therefore, works published before 1964 that were not renewed are in the public domain."

Then I researched the old song "They Didn't Believe Me" as a test of the copyright.gov site. I brought up the record, and the copyright office says it was copyrighted 1984. (ha!) Then I looked for the song on the Lester Levy site, and it was written in 1914. It was published in the US before 1923 and is public domain.

The 1984 claim that I saw is probably one of the "usual scams" that Richard talked about. If I wanted to record "They Didn't Believe Me," I would jolly well go ahead and do it.
==========
By the way, 'tis the season for all who use wikipedia to make a small contribution to keep it going.


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Subject: RE: copyright-How can I find if a song is protected?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Dec 13 - 12:40 PM

leeneia, the "scams" are copyright and therefore could be enforceable in a court of law.
I said "could," it depends upon the court and the jurists decision.

Richard Bridge is correct in that the U. S. "is going its own way," moreover the copyright regulations have been unduly muddied by Congressional actions and the courts.

However, the change or addition of a few words or slight changes in the musical score on your part might be a form of protection, if you claim or file for copyright on your version.

Wikipedia, I am afraid, is oversimplified. Was the article written by a lawyer qualified in copyright issues? Who knows?
See articles "Copyright" and "Talk-Copyright" in Wikipedia.


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Subject: RE: copyright-How can I find if a song is protected?
From: PHJim
Date: 16 Dec 13 - 07:00 PM

If the change or addition of a few words is made, are you still allowed to use the song without the changes or additions without worrying about copyright?


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Subject: RE: copyright-How can I find if a song is protected?
From: PHJim
Date: 16 Dec 13 - 07:02 PM

If someone copyrights their version of a traditional song, the original song is stil P.D., isn't it?


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Subject: RE: copyright-How can I find if a song is protected?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Dec 13 - 07:06 PM

No and yes in that order. Your lawyer will love you for your dedication to his cause.


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Subject: RE: copyright-How can I find if a song is protected?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Dec 13 - 07:56 PM

"How can I find if a song is protected?"

Ask Vito, trust me.


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Subject: RE: copyright-How can I find if a song is protected?
From: ollaimh
Date: 16 Dec 13 - 09:54 PM

if you're Canadian, "enforceable in a court of law" requires real conformity with the law and not the discussed scams. that's why us companies almost never try to enforce extended copyright in Canada.

but many companies claim copyright anyway . I was trying to photocopy some lute tablature from a british publication , published in 1950, of music writen in 1600, and staples wouldn't do it. one of many examples of applying American law in Canada. and I was taking a class so it fell under the Canadian exception for "educational purposes". so I just did it myself.

we do have a new piece of legislation to bring Canadian law closer to American. another terrible decision by the harper neo conmen.


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Subject: RE: copyright-How can I find if a song is protected?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 Dec 13 - 02:51 AM

There is a possibility that they typographical arrangement was still in copyright if the publisher had done the other usual scam of withdrawing the old typography and producing a new layout.


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Subject: RE: copyright-How can I find if a song is protected?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Dec 13 - 12:01 PM

Back in 1990's, when I worked for a lawyer, it cost $140 just to file your first paper in court and start a court case. I don't even know what it costs now. Add to that the cost of the lawyer (if you can convince a lawyer that you have a copyright to an old piece because you changed a few words, tried some new chords or used new instruments.)

After that, most likely the judge will throw your case out of court, basically saying, "Don't waste our time."

There is no penalty for claiming a copyright that you aren't really entitled to, so people do it all the time. But when you get right down to it, nobody bothers to enforce these claims in court and they are meaningless.
==========
I was just working with a carol from Dorset called 'Shepherds Arise.' Some guy made a MIDI of it by copying the four parts note-for-note from a book published in 1926. He assigned instrument sounds to the lines (organ for one line, French horn for another, etc.) Then he claimed he had a copyright on the song. Horsefeathers.

The overworked, overbooked courts of this world deal with big money, serious injuries, and life & death. They cannot be bothered with guys who spent an hour tinkering with a public domain song.


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Subject: RE: copyright-How can I find if a song is protected?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Dec 13 - 06:29 PM

Very strange terminology for us to use when you think about - "a song is protected".

No it isn't. Being property isn't the same as being protected, for a song any more than for a person,


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Subject: RE: copyright-How can I find if a song is protected?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Dec 13 - 08:18 PM

I notice Hal Leonard corp. claims copyright in the melody line of STILLE NACHT... ;-)


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Subject: RE: copyright-How can I find if a song is protected?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 18 Dec 13 - 09:20 AM

An informal way to start checking is to Google the song. If the results are all sheet music for purchase and no free downloadables show in 2-3 pages of results.... it's probably not in the public domain.


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Subject: RE: copyright-How can I find if a song is protected?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 18 Dec 13 - 11:06 AM

Guest, I agree that that's ridiculous. Hal Leonard claims a lot of improbable copyrights. Another example: I once saw a music book where a company claimed a copyright on the following:

"By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion."

Hmmm, that was a psalm, originally composed before the time of Christ and translated into English under King James (17th century, I believe). Something tells me it's too old to copyright.

Wysiwyg, that is good advice. Also a visit to ASCAP (U.S.) or BMI (U.K) might help. Where do people in other nations turn?


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Subject: RE: copyright-How can I find if a song is protected?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Dec 13 - 01:20 PM

Musical settings have been composed by a number of composers, from the 16th C., Palestrina a. o. and Hebrew composers from the same time period, to several modern English composers a. o., and Bob Marley and Boney O.

There is no Hebrew version with that title; the early copies attrib. For David by Jeremias; a song of longing, and eventual revenge on the Daughter of Jerusalem. Versions for several uses.

There is a traditional round (...we lay down and wept...). Lee Hays and Don McLean used this as a basis for their version.

Versions use floods, rivers, and waters. Early English versions use flodes, floods.

Whose music do you use, or do you take it from a pre-1900 printing?
Whose lyrics do you use, or do you use those from pre-1900?

The various versiobns are interesting.

I would surmise that there are several valid copyrights on recent versions.


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